Prioritise pesticides, says survey

Potato growers want a greater R&D focus on pesticides, energy use and GM technology according to the results of the Potato Council (PCL) levy-payer consultation.

The consultation also confirmed strong support for marketing initiatives such as the Grow Your Own Potatoes scheme for schools, although there were more mixed feelings about National Chip Week.

"The results are helping us prepare our corporate plan for 2009 to 2011," said PCL chief executive, Helen Priestley. "We've been really pleased with the number of people who took the time to take part and were willing to spend a lot of time in meetings with us to share their views.

"The results confirm that overall we are dealing with the broad range of concerns levy payers have. Those who say that they have told us they want us to do more on R&D or marketing, but that we have not listened, appear to be a minority."

Priestley said PCL's plan includes more help for growers to meet legislative challenges in soil, water and pesticide use. "The next three years will also see further discussions on the future of storage R&D provision," she said. "And it is probably also the right time now to look at options for the future of GM."

PCL says it has been absorbing inflation by drawing on reserves rather than increasing levies. About a third of responses to the consultation favoured a levy increase when that is no longer possible. The remainder prefer a continued levy freeze and cuts in activities, but were unable to identify specific activities that should be reduced.

Just over half the respondents favoured an even spread of funding with around 50 per cent of the money being split evenly between R&D and consumer marketing and the rest divided between knowledge transfer, provision of market information and work for the seed and export sector.

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